Playing with shirt sleeves

I just had to scratch an itch… A recent post by Girls in the Garden showcased the 52-1 Box-cut blouse by SisterMag – what a cute sleeve treatment! I love the button placket on the back of the sleeve, so clever.

Having an inexpensive fabric available (cotton sateen intended for pillowslips), I took the fun route and drafted a similar sleeve for my Noa shirt pattern.

The construction plan was really simple – cut an elbow length sleeve and add a placket and cuff:

The design uses a 2-piece ‘gauntlet’ placket rather than the bound placket of the Noa. Fashioning one from scratch is not hard, but is made much easier by Emy’s tutorial at Off the Cuff . BTW, this is Emy, owner of the ‘Fashion Sewing Supply‘, an interfacing destination for many sewists.

If I had not sewn a buttonhole through 3 layers of the front bodice, this would have been a wearable muslin. Sigh.

Great sleeve for pj’s, camp shirts, blouses and shirt dresses! Idea, gather or pleat the sleeve into a shorter cuff for the romantic puffed sleeve that’s been popular all year. Credits: check out Lori’s post here, and the original 52-1 Box-cut Linen Blouse pattern, available here.

I did patch the holes, but, no, I’ll not be keeping this shirt! Bye for now – Coco

Fabrics-Store Noa ‘big’ shirt

Oh, the pleasure of the classic big shirt!

Finding this beautiful pattern was not easy, even with all the search options we have online. I happened on it one day while exploring ‘indie women’s blouse sewing pattern’ on Pinterest. Following the link, I was on the Fabrics-Store site! I’ve often looked at their linens, but didn’t realize they offer an incredible array of patterns. The real stunner: this pattern is free.

The pattern description doesn’t include line art or measurements, but the fabric/measurements/sizes table is available in the download file. Sizes XS – 4X!

Things I love:

  • The bust, waist, and hips are all the same measurement. This shirt is not curvy – if I wanted curvy, I wouldn’t be looking at big shirts.
  • The hemline is deeply curved and gorgeous.
  • The yoke and collar are proportionate to a woman’s frame.
  • It has a one-piece sleeve with a continuous-bound placket and one-button cuff. I think it’s elegant.
  • Well, I love the whole thing.

Sewing notes:

  • I sewed the Medium (8/10), which has bust/waist/hips of 46.5″, and is 28″ long at the center back. (for reference, I’m 5/8″, 34/30/39).
  • I used Kaufman Brussels washer linen, 2.5 yards @ 52″ wide. The fabric requirements for my size suggest 2 yards, but, in the small print there’s a caution against shrinkage. Linens and linen blends shrink as much as 10%, hence the extra .5 yard. And I didn’t end up with much in the way of scraps!
  • For interfacing, I used Pellon 950F shirtailor (collar, stand, cuffs) and 911FF lightweight fusible (button bands).
  • The pattern includes 3/8″ seam allowances, but I drafted my tissue at 1/2″ SA. IMHO, 3/8″ is suitable only for knits.
  • I used the left bodice pattern, with its cut-on button band, for both sides.
  • Little tip: as preparation, I serged the edges of my cut-out pieces with a long 1-needle stitch to prevent losing seam allowances to the ravels. It’s super easy to remove the serging as needed – just locate the needle thread and pull 🙂
  • Buttonholes: I never use a button in the collar stand. It’s all vanity – I have a big head and skinny neck, and a button under my chin does me in mentally. Instead I place my first buttonhole 1 1/2″ below the collar stand. Oh, another tip – you can do those buttonholes before you do anything else, instead of waiting to the end.
  • The tutorial has great instructions for that pretty hem:
  • But their suggestions for attaching the yoke are kind of silly. Give me a burrito any day:

I want more!! Just the best big shirt ever 🙂

Ciao! Coco

Tessuti Silva Jacket

I’m late to the party! The Tessuti Silva Jacket has been around since 2014, but I only recently took notice. The latter because I’ve been looking for a summer jacket as an alternative to my usual cotton knit cardigans. Yes, I get cold. Stores, pharmacy, clinic, I freeze!

The jacket has very simple lines and a nice silhouette. And some spice – frayed edges on everything:

Surely nothing frays so well as linen, so I chose Robert Kaufman Brussels washer linen. It’s a linen/rayon blend, and I wear it a lot. BTW, I can’t wear 100% linen – the loose fibers actually hurt my skin. Bet I’m not the only one with this issue.

I had to start with black, right? But I’ve lightened some of the photos further along in this post.

I did a muslin in Kona cotton. Bad choice, because the Kona’s body and lack of drape hid the issues I had when I sewed my first linen version. The latter was a miserable fail…

  • It would not stay put on my shoulders, falling either forward or backward.
  • The neckline edges, with no facings, were shapeless.
  • The top corners just flopped around, which totally destroyed the lines of the front edges.

After throwing the bad-boy version and the pattern in the bin, I did my usual: I rescued the pattern and made notes on how to modify it. Because I like the jacket.


  • I sewed size 12, which fits me with no changes. (I’m 5’8″, 34″/30″/39″).
  • As a preference, I added 5 1/2″ to the length of the sleeve. The 3/4 length sleeve felt a little stuffy.

And those notes:

  • Since I was unhappy with the neckline drafting, I re-drew it using the Grainline Tamarack jacket pattern. The Tamarack’s neckline is basically the same as the Silva’s, but it’s higher all around.
  • To add support, I drafted facings for the entire neckline and the front edges. The front facing design is one that is common in women’s garments. These are cut at 2 3/4″ wide and interfaced with woven poly/cotton broadcloth.

Inside view:

I admit, this is the first time I’ve done a frayed edge finish, and it was rather fun. Tessuti’s instructions for this are quite good. Here’s a look before washing:

A quick launder, and all the edges are frayed!

Styled with an Ogden cami

The last step in this project was to clean not only my machines, but also my entire sewing room! Maybe even my house – linen makes such a mess 🙂

Ciao! Coco

The agony of sewing a shirt

It’s a. shirt…

To me that means it has a collar stand – instant angst.

As I write, I am confounded by changes in WordPress. Suddenly my browser is not supported. And the screen looks really weird.

Nonetheless, and moving on, I decided to revisit the Saraste Shirt, from the ‘Breaking the Pattern Workbook’ from Named Clothing. My first version, below, was Size 3 and a bit small. So I took out all those pattern sheets from the workbook and drafted Size 4.

For me, the most difficult and tedious part of this shirt is the collar/collar stand. It’s not hard! but it is, as I said, tedious.

To compound my native issue, my fabric is a stretch broadcloth. The added lycra just seems to get in my way at times. Practicing stitches on scraps is really really important to ensure the stretch factor is accommodated.

More later! Meanwhile, here’s a pic of a Cuban white tree frog who soaked up the sun on my front porch yesterday. He left overnight, messy little guy… Ciao! Coco

Polka dot season…

It happens every year – that polka dot thing. Hot hot summer and suddenly polka dots seem like popsicles. Gotta’ have some!

This year’s rendition is a Fabric Merchants cotton/lycra jersey knit, purchased on Amazon. It’s a heavyweight knit at 10 oz./sq. yd., and it’s perfect for a dress or jacket with structured design elements.

About the dress. It started out as straight-forward New Look 6936 with flutter sleeves, View C, the same version as my pineapple dress (here).

But in this heavy knit, color, and pattern repeat, the sleeves overwhelmed the dress and seemed rather stuffy. Now, here’s the thing: I knew I would not wear it with those sleeves. With nothing to lose, I took out pen and scissors and reshaped the sleeves to have a simple extended shoulder.

I always add a waistband between bodice and skirt on knit dresses. I use a woven cotton on the inside of the waistband, and the result has two advantages: it prevents having a stretched-out waistband seam, and it supports the weight of the skirt. Inside the band, I added soft Sport Waistband Elastic (from Wawak, 25-yard rolls).

Polka dots or popsicle, one is never enough…

Ciao! Coco

Fabric and project agony…

The agony. I purchased 3 yards of this lovely abstract stripe linen for a jacket. In reality, it is like cheesecloth, and even three launderings did not close the weave.

So – a lining required. But wrestling the fabric on the grainline was just horrendous.

What was meant to be a starlet jacket will be a scarf for many people on my Christmas list, including me!

What next? this project was meant to carry me for a while. So, I ordered some lovely Kaufman black cotton twill for that jacket. Before I go any further, the jacket? A Republique du Chiffon Gerard Manteau, a classic boyfriend style. I ordered the pattern when it came out, ages ago. Believe it or not, everything was drawn by hand, pattern and instructions, and challenging. Last month I ordered the updated pattern. It and the instructions booklet have since entered the 21st century. Below, new line art and ‘old’ pattern.

The updated pattern has different pockets and options for 3 lengths. Yes! As to my new project with twill, it will be unlined, which is very easy given the facings and hemline bands provided on the pattern.

Meanwhile…I’m prepping tools for paper beads and laying low, I’m into the 2nd volume of Churchill’s books on WWII, and being patient on the sewing front. I actually have 3 books in progress simultaneously. Beside Churchill, also Barbara Tuchman on WWI ‘The Guns of August’ and Stanley Karnow ‘Vietnam: a History’. I finished John Toland, ‘The Rising Sun’ and ‘Korea: Mortal Combat’, in the last year.

For now, I hope you are well and coping – difficult times, my wish for your peace and calm. Coco

New Look 6936 Pineapples maxi dress

Oh, that lovely pineapple jersey from Girl Charlee fabrics – a classic.

I first used this knit for a Cali Faye Gardenia dress in 2017, it’s just a lovely fabric. Specs: 10 oz medium weight, 35%/55% stretch, cotton/spandex. I think 10 oz knits are perfect for dresses.

For this new maxi, I used an old friend in my pattern stash, New Look 6936. Okay, those old pics are daunting on the hair front! But they were taken 9 years ago, back when I still dyed my locks.

My current version uses the sleeves from view C, with added length and a few other things, in the sewing notes below. IMHO, these are perfect flutter sleeves. I have broad shoulders and most add-on flutter sleeves look like an appendage on me!

Sewing notes:

  • I sew the size 14 in this dress. Remember, it’s the pattern measurements that matter. In RTW, I’m size 8 or 10, same for most indie patterns. But the Big Four continue to stick with their outdated sizing denominations.
  • To the point, the skirt is a column, in this case 44″ around, top to bottom. With 39″ hips, it’s perfect for me. And is sufficient width for me to walk without a slit (which would be easy to add if you like the idea).
  • I added a waistband casing between the skirt and the bodice. Actually, the bodice is quite short, and I am way past wanting a high empire look (the sassy ikat knit dress above is the original pattern). The casing is finished at 1 1/2″ wide and has soft elastic inside. The inside layer is white cotton broadcloth, because I find that using a woven provides support for the waist and skirt.
  • The bodice crossover is deep, so there are no issues with exposed girls or having to wear a cami!
  • The original pattern instructions are to do a folded and stitched hem on the entire neckline.Yuck. I drafted facings, which provide a little weight to all those bias edges and look very nice. I didn’t interface the facings, given the weight of the fabric. Had it been lighter, I would have used Pellon EK130 tricot knit fusible.
  • BTW, I think the original pattern is perfect for an advanced beginner. Adding a waistband is not difficult, just a matter of choice and confidence 🙂

More pics!

A note: I originally posted this dress with a full maxi length. And I thought it was dreary! I shortened the dress by about 5 1/2″ 🙂

It just feels good to have a successful project in a favorite vibe. As a parting shot, may I say that I despise WordPress’ block editor!! Makes me crazy…

Ciao! Coco